I.D.E.A. District

8 Placemaking Principles for Innovation Districts

This article is part of the Bass Initiative on Innovation and Placemaking, a collaboration between PPS and the Brookings Institution. It is posted here.

Eight Placemaking Principles for Innovation Districts

Increasingly, startups, incubators and accelerators around the world are clustering around leading-edge companies and institutions in dense urban settings called “innovation districts.” By creating shared value, placemaking has much to offer this emerging geography of innovation in cities. It can play an important role in an integrated strategy designed to attract, retain and cultivate talent; to improve networking and communication flows between innovators; and to make the district a distinct, memorable destination. As this article shows, by averting, sharing, and externalizing costs, quality places can also accomplish these goals with a greater return on investment than many conventional approaches.

These eight principles reflect our work with the Brookings Institution on innovation districts, combining twists on some of PPS’s well-known strategies with fresh new observations:


All too often, institutions like universities and corporate offices turn to expensive starchitect-designed buildings or public spaces to differentiate themselves from competitors and express their prestige. And all too often, these investments end up costing more than they’re worth in financial, practical, and social terms. Focusing instead on a sense of place provides a cost-effective and meaningful alternative to such expensive mistakes, and this process begins with one simple question: what are we currently doing privately that we could be doing publicly?

Read the rest of the article here.

IDEA1 is the first step to establishing the District’s vision of becoming San Diego’s design + technology innovation hub. We will achieve this goal by mixing all of the critical uses – office, residential, and retail – in a way that encourages interaction between inhabitants of this block and the larger community. The design principles that support an innovation ecosystem are on display in this project to act as an inspiration for other I.D.E.A. District designers and developers.

If you are a CEO ready to attract the best talent with creative office space and amenities, or a creative looking for a place to call home, welcome to IDEA1.

If you are a young professional looking to live in an innovative live/work/play community, welcome to IDEA1. Sign up for our Residential Interest List and be the first to know when units become available.